Waiting Game : BMW Driver Experience Advance 2

batch 33892823798 6fa64eace1 k

Many times, the only thing separating slow from swift is waiting an extra breath or two before getting back on the gas.

batch 32826384277 8cb10b8416 k

Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne - Believe it or not, the biggest takeaway from any driving course is ‘patience’... well that and looking ahead to where you want the car to go, of course!

batch 47717452972 afae91ea2d k

After you strip away the exuberance and enthusiasm that come with being at the helm of three M sportscars on a race-track, the amount of speed (or slip) you carry through the different stations all boils down to waiting, watching... and then whacking!

batch 47717453152 d8826bf8d1 k

batch 47717453272 66cb1e75e8 k

We’re at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit again for the sequel to last year’s BMW Driving Experience Advance 1 – the BMW Driving Experience Advance 2, which costs S$2,200 – where we’re hoping to enjoy a lot more frippery with even more slippery, sideways action than we dabbled with in Advance 1.

batch 47717449202 9d0bd62f4a k

However, as we’d discover in the course of the course, there’s actually a dedicated M Drift Training course if you only want to be indulging in sideways hooniganism!

batch 40803669353 2782e9b36d k

batch 40803663703 1c8ea6af9a k

Happily enough, a day spent at an open track session is never wasted, because it’s always good to hone our driving technique under proper tutelage. There’s a small niche of instructors that can both drive and teach and we’ve found the BMW instructors to be consistently spot-on. After all, the art of instruction requires a lot more introspection and analytical skills to assess and instruct than imaginary beard-stroking and smoking drift demos.

batch 47769824551 156f402643 k

In this follow-up course, the focus is less on learning the track (as we did in Advance 1) and more on fine-tuning one’s driving style to carry maximum speed through the corners. Remember we talked about ‘patience’ in the introduction?

batch 47717453712 586c0c9246 k

The urge is always strong to barrel into a corner too quickly and/or try to get back on the gas again even before you see the exit to the corner. Botching one corner often affects the subsequent few, because you end up carrying less speed through the sequence than you should. Similarly, during the oversteer station, there’s a natural inclination to dial in a dose of opposite lock to correct the slide immediately, but the downside is it’ll never have a chance of developing into a drift.

batch 47717451742 b9116f2a22 k

Fast (and/or sideways) progress is all about patience, and most times, all it takes is for the driver to wait a hastily gulped breath or two longer before getting back on the gas – a small flare in the grand scheme of things when we’ve already made our way all the way to Phillip Island from Singapore. You’ll always know when you get it right because of the sense of satisfaction that washes over you as you successfully string together a series of corners.

batch 47717448882 bc278914aa k

batch 47717448662 6846c30bf3 k

With the opportunity to hammer the M3, M4 and M2 Competition around the circuit, we find they respond differently to our ministrations (even from M4 to M3), and that’s where the muscle memory and experience developed from the track drills come in useful.

batch 47717452642 84bbe2cf83 k

These courses are less about learning about specific models and circuits, but more about learning to analyse what’s happening, what’s causing it and what you can do about it to improve your pace.

batch 47769825161 e23f502146 k

After all, when it comes to learning to drive fast, safely, it’s best not to play the waiting game...

PHOTOS Derryn Wong

David Khoo
Author: David Khoo
David is a big petrolhead who has been dabbling in the car trade since 2001 and currently oversees Top Gear Singapore. His stories often take an eclectic slant from the predictable, and he's able to craft a compelling read that lets you see the cars (often old!) in a new light.